A proposed class action alleges the NFL and the New York Giants and New York Jets have “siphoned” billions from interstate commerce by branding the franchises as New York teams despite playing their home games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The 19-page complaint against the teams, the National Football League, and MetLife Stadium Company, LLC argues that if other professional New York teams—the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Rangers and Liberty, among others—must play in the state and pay real estate costs and taxes, it is “only fair” that the Giants and Jets do the same, or change their names to reflect that they’re actually located in New Jersey.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants have intentionally misrepresented the Giants and Jets, who began playing home games in New Jersey in 1976 and 1984, respectively, so as to artificially boost the teams’ valuation and revenues by billions by using “New York” and “NY” branding. As the plaintiff tells it, many NFL fans who’ve attended the teams’ games for the first time are unaware that they play out of state, and the plaintiff and other Giants and Jets fans who live in New York, the lawsuit says, have been “insulted, ridiculed, harassed, tormented, and bullied” by other fans due to the true location of their teams.
“Many NFL fans would not attend live games of the Giants or Jets if they were warned in advance that they play in the State of New Jersey,” the suit contests.
Per the case, each NFL team derives brand value, marketability and revenue “largely” by associating with a home city, state or region. According to the lawsuit, the Giants and Jets are the third- and eighth-most valuable franchises in the league, respectively, and have derived a good chunk of their overall value from their New York branding, which the case describes as a “much more recognizable, powerful and valuable brand then [sic] New Jersey” for myriad reasons.
Another contention in the case is the argument that the majority of Giants and Jets fans actually live in the State of New York. The suit says that although there are fewer than one million residents of Bergen County, New Jersey, where the Giants and Jets play, more than 8.3 million people live in the boroughs of New York, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
“This indicates that approximately 90% of the local Giants and Jets fan population, including Plaintiff, reside in New York,” the case claims, relaying that New York fans often encounter on average a four-hour roundtrip “at a very high cost” on game day to see Giants or Jets games in New Jersey.
The suit goes on to note that the NFL engages in the same location-branding practice with the Dallas Cowboys, who play in Arlington, Texas; the Washington Football Team, who play in Landover, Maryland; and the San Francisco 49ers, who play in Santa Clara, California. Tagging the franchises with their actual locations would only hurt their valuation and the teams’ revenues, the lawsuit claims.
“It is therefore clear that Defendants have intentionally advertised and branded the Giants and Jets falsely, to increase their gross revenue and value of their franchises at the expense and to the detriment of Plaintiff and the class, the State and City of New York, and millions of NFL fans,” the complaint alleges.
Per the suit, the Giants’ and Jets’ next opportunity to move back to New York will come in 2025, when their contract with MetLife Stadium expires.
The lawsuit looks to represent all Giants and Jets fans who reside in the State of New York.
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